Bashar\'s Internet passion enhances network
Syria is planning to set up a special network for Internet communications in the next few months to increase and facilitate access to the web, a Syrian expert involved in the multimillion-dollar project said Tuesday.
The network will be managed by a company in which the state Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) will hold a 25 percent share. The remaining 75 percent will be owned by private investors from Syria and other Arab countries.
The project will link the subscribers to the new server using a separate network from the one used by phone communications, said the expert who asked to remain anonymous. Internet connections in Syria have so far been slow and unreliable because they are using the saturated STE telephone network.
The Syrian expert said under the new project Internet subscriptions — currently limited to public administration, companies and universities — will be open to the public. According to official statistics, only 7,000 of Syria's 17 million people are on the Internet. The new project should boost the figure to 200,000.
Internet subscription is expensive in Syria, with an $80 fee for 12 hours per month, plus $2.40 for every additional hour. The average salary in Syria is no more than $120. The new network aims to level the costs with its neighbors Lebanon and Jordan.
The expert also said free e-mail, currently forbidden by the STE, will be made available.
The Internet was introduced in Syria in 1997 as an experimental project by the Syrian Information Society, which was founded by Bashar al-Assad, who became president after his long-ruling father Hafez al-Assad died in June.
Bashar's passion for computers has been the engine behind a series of steps taken over the past six years to put Syria on the technology map, including the introduction of laws to introduce the computer to school curriculums and make it a compulsory course in universities since 1997. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)